Asus Zenfone 3 ZE520KL Review – Decent Mid-Range Performer

Asus – The name is popular for categories like motherboards, laptops, tablets, Displays, Networking products is leaping into the smartphone market with stylish and photography oriented devices. In May 2016 the company launched Asus Zenfone Max which is a battery monster making possible 2 days continuous use of the device without charging the battery.

But well, have to accept everything. The Asus Zenfone Max is average at camera performance since every brand is focussing on the DSLR-like image snappers in their phones. Recently, Oppo and Huawei launched photography oriented handsets, both of these are worthy of their design and features. Now coming to the Asus, the company is launched 3 devices with next-generation photography features. Meet, the Asus Zenfone 3, one of the three smartphones which are Deluxe and Ultra. Here is a detailed review of the Zenfone 3 ZE520KL from my 4 days continuous usage.

Asus Zenfone 3 ZE520KL Specs

FeaturesSpecs
Display5.2 inches, Super IPS+ Display
Screen Resolution1080 x 1920 pixels
Operating SystemAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow (Zen UI 3.0)
CPUSnapdragon 625 Octa-core Processor
GPUAdreno 506
Memory3GB of RAM
Inbuilt Storage32GB
Storage Upgrade256GB via micro SD card
Primary Camera16MP with Dual LED – Dual tone Flash, LPDAF, OIS
Video recording1080p @ 30fps
Secondary Camera8MP
Battery2600mAh (Non-removable)
Fingerprint SensorYes
4GYes
SIM card typeHybrid SIM
Weight144gms

Asus Zenfone 3 Front Panel

Asus Zenfone 3 – Design

I think Asus has now turned a massive design change with the Zenfone 3 series. Coming to the Zenfone 3 it has superior build quality comparing with the similar price range of devices. The device builds with All-Metal and Glass body with sleek looks. Zenfone 3 is easy for single handed operation with a 2.1mm slim bezel body.

Coming to the design part, the device has sleek bezels and a steel metal line running through the edge of the panel. It is similar to the Apple 6 series, but the designer is managed to change its looks completely from both front and back sides.

Asus Zenfone 3 Build Quality

The device holds a premium look in the hand; it is one of the beautiful device available in the market. With the design, Asus kept it simple and you can say simply WOW. The company is also introduced a term ‘invisible antenna’ with Zenfone 3 series. The antenna is almost invisible when you see the skeleton of the device inside. Technically it is a step towards new technology.

Asus Zenfone 3 Rear Panel

Build Quality of the device is strong, and the company hasn’t compromised on the design. The front side of the device consists of a speaker at the top followed by proximity sensors and front camera. The display of the device is 5.2-inch FHD screen with contoured Corning Gorilla Glass protection, at the bottom, you will see physical buttons for navigation. On the rear side, the device has a Camera bump, LED Flash, and a fingerprint scanner. At the rear bottom, you will see Asus logo for branding.

The foremost attraction of the new Asus Zenfone 3 is primarily the design and build quality. Perhaps, the user needs to take care about the device when operating single handed. The device is too slippery in hands; I strongly suggest a good bumper or rugged case protect this beauty from bumps and scratches.

Display

The display of the Asus Zenfone 3 is bright and packed with 1920×1080 full high definition FHD and 600nits brightness technology. The display is built with Super IPS+ display, the quality of the display is closer to the Amoled.

Asus Zenfone 3 Display

It has excellent color reproduction, great viewing angles and brightness levels are good even in daylight. I tested the display in various lighting conditions and results are pretty good in all. It has a 77.3% screen to body ratio, which means you will feel big display and less body experience.

For display, Asus used Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. We have no complaints with the quality of the display used in Zenfone 3 and we appreciate the efforts done by the company for crafting beautiful device at a budget friendly price.

Hardware

While coming to the hardware section of the Zenfone 3, the Snapdragon 625 Octa-core Processor holding the device with a clock speed of 2.0GHz. The eight core processor is far enough to run the Pokemon Go and Asphalt games as we have tested earlier. Without heating too much, the device manages to provide a great gaming experience on high-graphic games. 3GB RAM joins the CPU to empower multi-tasking performance of the Zenfone 3. The combination is well known for its ability to provide good performance as well as the uninterrupted multi-tasking.

Asus Zenfone 3 Buttons Placement

The gaming capabilities of the smartphone are enhanced by the Adreno 506 GPU. It will be a great experience to have a gaming session on the Zenfone 3 which is also equipped with a 1920 x 1080 HD display. After having an Asphalt session on the smartphone, we can really recommend this to you if you are a hard-core gamer. The 2600mAh battery surprised us by letting us playback an outstanding 16 hours of videos. We had enjoyed multiple movies and animations in all this testing period.

To store all of your important data, there is a 32GB ROM available on Zenfone 3 which could be later upgraded up to 256GB via micro SD card. But, for a smartphone worth $300+ the Asus should’ve included a little more internal storage. We may expect it in the upcoming variants.

Asus Zenfone 3 Fingerprint Scanner

Camera

As we mentioned before, the camera of the Asus Zenfone 3 is average. Even it is saying the back camera is of 16.0MP while having some shoot in high brightness conditions, we don’t feel like so. For a company which produced great camera smartphones like Zenfone Zoom, we expected a little more clarity in the camera. But, they made sure to include all other essential features like Laser Phase Detection Autofocus, Optical Image Stabilization with 4 axis, dual LED and dual tone flash. Here are some back camera examples to have a visual examination. The next generation PixelMaster 3.0 feature is added in the device, it captures the images really fast and steady in just 0.03 seconds.

The front shooter is comparatively good with an 8.0 MP sensors, aperture f/2.0 and 1080p resolution. Images also look pretty even in low lighting. There is a bunch of options available to enhance the selfie without depending an extra photo editor. Have a look at the front camera samples.

While talking about the video capturing of the product, it can record 4K videos and 1080p high definition clips @ 30fps which are not too bad in performance. After a couple of hours of the testing process, we found that the video taking capability of the Zenfone 3 is good but not too average. Especially in shaky conditions, the sensor failed to capture stabilized videos. Even smaller and cheaper devices have a better video stabilization feature, a company like Asus should’ve included an even better camera on a flagship device. For you, here is a video sample was taken from the Asus Zenfone 3.

Asus Zenfone 3 Camera Interface

The User Interface of the Asus Zenfone 3 is average when compared to the other Zenfone series. Another good feature to notice on this smartphone is Zen UI shortcuts to access the camera and directly have a picture. Users could double tap the fingerprint sensor to open the camera and single tap to take a picture. All in all, regarding the camera, the Zenfone 3 is average but not too bad. When comparing with the previous Asus models, you could feel a little disappointed with this camera features provided in Zenfone 3.

OS and Performance

Zenfone 3 is running on the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow overlayed by the Zen UI 3.0 with a couple more features than the previous Zen UI releases. There is a lot of small improvements in the OS alongside some big ones. For example, double tapping the home screen will activate the Single Hand mode, customizable gestures, and a couple more camera shortcuts as mentioned before. At the first look to the improvements, we could see Asus have mostly concentrated on improving the User-experience of the Zen UI. As far as my personal experience the Zen UI has its pros and cons, if you are a pure Android fanboy, you may disappoint with the Bloatware comes with Zen. But the company is managed to tweak the Android in a decent way; the average user will get satisfaction with the tweaked OS. I found few apps which are pre-loaded with the device; we commonly name as bloatware. Here are the apps which I found in Zenfone 3 ZE520KL.

  • ASUS Game Center
  • AudioWizard (Equalizer)
  • Do It Later (Todo List)
  • File Manager
  • Flashlight
  • Laser Ruler
  • MiniMovie
  • Mobile Manager
  • MyASUS
  • PhotoCollage
  • Share Link
  • Splendid
  • Themes
  • Weather
  • ZenChat
  • ZenCircle
  • ZenFone Care.

Mobile Manager feature lets you clean up the Zenfone very fast, and we found it as a good replacement for many third party applications. It can replace the apps like Power Saver, Cleaning apps, and a security app. Using the same app, users could clean up apps that spam their notifications, apps that start on boot, apps that take too many permissions, or apps that eat too much mobile data. The Easy mode and Kids mode are also noticeable among the improvements.

The Zen UI got many performance improvements also. From our tests the device performs very well and the apps get installed even faster when compared to the previous devices. Internet surfing also good even on slower connections. The previous models had a little heating issue which is also solved in Zenfone 3.

Asus Zenfone 3 ZE520KL Connectivity

Connectivity

The connectivity of the Zenfone 3 is horse powered by the 4G LTE. As mentioned before, the internet browsing seems to be improved in this device where the video streaming is blazing fast. We couldn’t find the buffering icon other than the beginning of the video. All other connectivity solutions including Wifi, Bluetooth is there on this Dual SIM device.

I tested the call connectivity and signal strength for 3 days. The device is good to grasp signal in any place as far the least tower signal is available. I went to a place where the signal is hardly reached by the phone. Even at single bar signal strength, the device holds the connectivity with the signal tower and connectivity and quality of the call is good. The invisible antenna is performing well even in a bad signal condition.

Asus Zenfone 3 Fingerprint Scanner Performance

Sweetening the security features, a Fingerprint reader is there on the smartphone which provides an extra layer of security to the users. As we found in many other devices, it is placed on the backside this time. The phone also supports, PIN lock, pattern lock along with fingerprint scanner to unlock the device. If you still want more, the Laser included for the autofocus can also measure the distance in critical conditions. The fingerprint scanner is fast and unlocks your device is less than second. A USB Type-C connector also joins the connectivity section.

Battery

Last but not the least the Battery performance. The Zenfone 3 is packed with a 2600mAh which is an average performer. The device is managed to give a full day usage under normal usage conditions. If you are a gaming maniac, expect less backup time from the device. For a full charge, the device is taking 50-60 minutes, you can improve the charging time by enabling the Aeroplane mode while charging.

PROS:

  • Light Weight
  • Craftsmanship Design Standard
  • Fast Fingerprint Scanner
  • Faster Charging Time
  • Camera with 4K Recording
  • Touch is Smooth and Fast

CONS:

  • Bloatware
  • Slippery in Hands
  • Average Battery

Verdict

As always, there are no defects in this Asus product also other than some small cons. If you are going to buy the Zenfone 3 for the image taking purposes, we are not that confident to recommend this product to you. Even it managed to deliver good camera, it is not enough for a real shooter. Regarding performance, the Asus Zenfone 3 is a rock star. The solid hardware including a Snapdragon processor and 3GB  RAM never failed to satisfy us in our long and continuous testing sessions. The gaming experience also made a great impression in our mind.

Connectivity also looks good as it comes with a Hybrid sim slot. FHD display utilizes the Super IPS+ technology with the protection of Gorilla Glass 3. All in all, the Asus Zenfone 3 which currently priced Rs. 21999 ($328) is a good choice you can make in the mid-range category.

Asus Zenfone 3 ZE520KL Review – Decent Mid-Range Performer
8.1 Overall
Build Quality8.5
Features8
Design8.5
Camera8.5
Network8
Battery7
Rahul is the Editor-in-Chief at Thetechhacker, PhoneSetter and TheWearableNews. After realizing an obsession with technology, he left his job career to write about technology.
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